Soft fluffy cinnamon rolls that stay soft for days.
Combine the 1/3 cup warm water, 1 tablespoon sugar and 1 tablespoon dry active yeast in a medium sized glass bowl. Gently mix together with a fork and cover the top of the bowl with plastic wrap to trap in the heat of the warm water. The mixture will bubble up and grow. Set mixture aside. If it does not bubble up or change, you need to start over with this step with new ingredients.
Combine the Tangzhong ingredients: the 1/4 cup water, 1/4 cup milk and the flour in a medium saucepan, and whisk together until no lumps remain.
Place the saucepan over medium heat. Cook the mixture, whisking constantly, until the mixture thickens to a smooth, pudding-like consistency; about 2 to 3 minutes. Remove the saucepan from the heat.
To the saucepan with the Tangzhong (flour paste), whisk in the melted butter, sour cream and water.
Add in the 2 eggs and whisk until fully incorporated. The liquid ingredients will cool off the hot Tangzhong mixture.
In the bowl of a stand mixer set with the dough hook attachment, pour in the flour paste/sour cream/ egg mixture.
Add in the proofed yeast mixture and all the flour.
Mix on low speed until all the flour is moistened and a dough comes together, about 1 to 2 minutes.
Let the dough rest in the bowl of the mixer for 20 minutes. This will give the flour a chance to absorb the liquid, making it easier to knead.
After the 20 minutes, add the sugar and salt and mix on medium-low speed until a smooth, elastic and slightly sticky dough forms; about 10 minutes. The dough will be sticky when mixing begins, but resist the urge to add more flour; the dough will absorb the excess moisture and come together as the mixing continues. After the 10 minutes of kneading the dough in the mixer, the dough should feel slightly sticky and should easily come together in a ball when handled with lightly greased hands.
Lightly grease your hands and shape the dough into a ball, and move it to a lightly greased large glass bowl. Cover the top with plastic wrap and allow to rise in a warm place, until almost doubled in volume, about 1 hour. OR, you can let it rise slowly in the fridge overnight. The overnight method is preferred for rising because a cold dough is so much easier to work with.
In a medium bowl, whisk together the brown sugar, cinnamon, cornstarch and salt until well combined. Set aside until ready to use.
Gently deflate the risen dough with a lightly floured hand, then move the dough onto a pastry mat or a very lightly floured counter. Lightly flour a rolling pin and roll the dough out to form a 16X18-inch rectangle with the longer side closest you. Gently roll, pull and stretch the dough to get it to reach these measurements.
Evenly spread the partially melted butter all over the top of the dough, then sprinkle the cinnamon brown sugar filling over the butter. With your hand spread the mixture evenly all over the top. Use your rolling pin to roll and press the filling into the dough.
Starting with the longer side near you, roll the dough tightly, moving away from your body. When the dough is rolled into a cylinder, gently pinch the edge to seal the edge of the dough to itself. Roll the cylinder seam side down.
With a knife, gently score lines into the top to mark where you will cut. Divide the dough into 12 equal pieces.
With a longer strand of dental floss slide under the cylinder, and cross the ends of the floss over each other and pull. Slice each cylinder into 12 portions (about 2 inches each) and move each cinnamon roll onto a sheet pan lined with parchment paper.
Cover the pan loosely with plastic wrap and allow the rolls to rise until the rolls are touching each another and doubled in size, about 40 to 50 minutes. During the last 15 minutes of rising, preheat the oven to 350°F.
In a medium bowl with an electric hand mixer, beat together the butter and cream cheese until smooth, about 2 minutes.
Add in the powdered sugar. Continue beating, until the powdered sugar is fully incorporated and the mixture is light and fluffy; about 2 more minutes of mixing.
Add in the milk, lemon juice and vanilla. Continue to mix until well combined.
Remove the plastic wrap from over the risen rolls and bake in the preheated oven for 20 to 25 minutes. Add a piece of aluminum foil halfway through baking to keep the tops from over-browning. The rolls will be done when the center of the dough registers around 190F on an instant read thermometer, or when a toothpick inserted in the center of the roll comes out clean.
Remove the rolls from the oven, and immediately spread the tops with the frosting. The heat of the rolls will partially melt the frosting into the rolls. Serve warm. Store completely cooled rolls in an airtight container for a couple of days at room temperature.
Variations of this recipe:
For Apple Cinnamon Rolls: add 1 1/2 cup apples, peeled chopped and slightly sautéed right after the partially melted butter is added to the top of the dough.
For Pumpkin Cinnamon Rolls: add 1/2 15oz can of pumpkin puree to the cinnamon brown sugar filling mixture.
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